Some recaps and thoughts on class visits I’ve done during the Spring 2021 Semester.
Margaret Denny – Undergraduate Photo History – 03.22.21
I visited with Margaret Denny’s class and gave a lecture about the influences of photo history on my practice. The presentation which I titled Moving Towards Social Practice started off with influences I have had from photo history classes and visiting exhibitions during the time of my undergraduate studies. I showed them typologies of Bernd and Hilla Becher and the work of Philip Lorca DiCorcia and drew connections between these seemingly very different artists and how that lead to my making my undergraduate project Car Culture. I explained that while I enjoy still working on that project, much of my more recent work is much less connected to Anthropological ways of image making. What began as making pictures of people and within the traditions of street photography where images are made candidly and without any collaboration or consent began to move much more towards projects where I had to actively engage with people on individual levels and even on a community scale. I shared my project made in Hong Kong where I was photographing people that are part of an immigrant community and how many people who are part of this community are asylum seekers. For a historical connection I then shared the work of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine as it was directly connected to the class curriculum and discussed the different image making and ethical approaches of each photographer’s image making. We also discussed the goals of such image making to enact social change within a society and how that might connect to my projects. I also showed the work of Brian Ulrich and Lynne Cohen and discussed how these artists most recently influenced my decisions to make images of interior spaces in conjunction with the portraiture I was already more comfortable with. I also showed the work of Susan Meiselas and talked about how her practice has changed over the years. I showed exampled of how she reinstalled her photojournlism images recontextualized as temporary billboard style installations in the places where the images were made initially. We also talked about the consumption of images and really thinking about who is the intended audience of a project. Meiselas was used as an example of an artist who really thinks about these questions and makes efforts to have her work be as much for the communities and people she photographs as for other people far removed from the places in which she makes her work. As part of this I then shared how my thesis work from Columbia College was used on billboards in Little Village and Pilsen for Covid-19 PSAs last summer as an example of how some of my work is finding it’s way into more public spaces in the communities in which it was made. I also spent a fair amount of time showing images from my Dammeyer Fellowship work. I showed some images from my work at the UC shelters and the apartments setup for newly arrived refugees. We discussed how the populations that Heartland Alliance serves are quite vulnerable and how many have experienced trauma which led them to leave their countries and how even the journey to the US could be filled with trauma which is often exacerbated by the US immigration system itself. We discussed how my image making strategies for the fellowship are often influenced by not only my experiences with photo history and influential artists such as Meiselas but how the very circumstances, government regulations and Heartland Alliance policies help shape my image making decisions to best balance making the project I’m working on while simultaneously respecting privacy, trying to find a way to best engage with people and the social issues that are inherently connected to the programs that Heartland runs.
Ross Sawyers – Undergraduate Professional Practices – 04.27.21
Most recently I visited Ross Sawyers professional practices class. There was a specific request to talk very broadly about all the very different photography experience I have in areas both connected to my personal practice and to things like my experience in the past as a photo assistant, working in E-Commerce, doing photobooths, event photography etc. This class visit was done much more loosely with questions being posed while I was talking and responding on the fly to those questions. The overall theme was how a young photographer can have a very diverse group of skills, jobs and experiences while simultaneously working towards a more focused career in a chosen genre of photography. I discussed with the class how while I was a photo assistant on large commercial and editorial photo shoots with well known photographers I was also working on my personal projects such as my undergraduate project Car Culture and how I would take that work to portfolio reviews or submit it to photo blogs for publication. The idea I most wanted this group of students to grasp was that it regardless of whether they were commercial product photographer, editorial magazine photographers or fine artists with aspirations to have a gallery and museum career, they could in fact do many different things with their cameras to make a living or be working in support roles for other photographers to make a living while they built up their own practice. As examples of my own aspirations and path in photography I showed how my website, CV and things that I apply for are all focused on my personal projects and hopefully moving towards a more socially engaged practice. While over the years I certainly shoot events, do art documentation, headshots, photobooths, e-commerce, advertising product photography, editorial assignments and other photography jobs I don’t actively advertise alongside my personal work that I do any of these other things. I keep these worlds more separate so that I don’t become known for event photography etc. I really emphasized that the reason I do things this way is that I’d rather be making a living in photography and preferably with a camera in my hand than having to pick up a job at Starbucks and that ultimately if everything works out you can let go of types of photography work you like less for working on photography projects you like more or in the best case scenario mean something to you.
Kelli Connell – Undergraduate Seminar –
Mel Potter – Graduate Professional Practices –
Joan Giroux – Art Design and Change –